I think that Judith’s response is so important! ‘Few of them were a surprise’! Replace the word ‘dyslexia’ with the phrase ‘ difficulty with learning to read and/or spell words’ and you have your own screener! There has been built a huge and lucrative industry around ‘dyslexia’ which has made it out to be a difficult thing to spot and deal with, when it is really more straight forward.
Three things to look out for:
Poor phonological awareness- can the child discriminate between sounds? Do they understand the difference between a spoken sentence and it’s composite words and words and their composite sounds? Use the assessments and associated activities in the freely available ‘Ultimate Guide to Phonological Awareness.’
Slow auditory processing skills – are they the child who takes age to give you an answer to a simple question?
Weak working memory – are they the child who cannot follow age expected verbal instructions?
People who have difficulty in learning to read and/or spell words are likely to have weaknesses in these areas, but crucially to dispel the myth of ‘diagnosing dyslexia’ will have different degrees of difficulty, if at all, in these areas. If an individual is a more graphic based language user, such as Mandarin, and is having difficulty in learning to read and/or spell words, they will have weaknesses in completely different areas, for example, visual processing and not phonological awareness!
It is very important that children who are having difficulty with learning to read and/or spell words are given extended opportunities to play with sounds through rhymes, repetitive stories and word play. ‘I Hear With My Ear’ published by LDA is cheap and useful.
These children need to have a interleaved (old learning with new learning), cumulative and lots and lots of visual cues to support learning phonics, alongside the same approach to learning whole ‘tricky’ or 100 high frequency words. These children are likely to have weakness with working memory and the visual cues will support this. Ensure that any word phonic or whole word sessions involve reading and spelling of the target sound/word in isolation and in sentences to be read or dictated to spell as this will help the child to generalise their learning.
There is a lot more I could say, but I will save that for another day!